Smooth seas don’t make great sailors

Innovation, purpose and commercial focus - conversations on Earth Day

To mark Earth Day, The Marketing Society hosted its first ever Global Conversations connecting all seven of their hubs around the world to have an important conversation about the opportunities and challenges presented by the current global situation. The speakers were inspiring, open and honest, and not only shared insights about their businesses, but also the current market situation in their region.

The event was expertly moderated by the Society’s Chief Executive, Gemma Greaves, who navigated a conversation with seven leaders at once, no mean feat. The brilliant line-up included:

  • Khaled Ismail (Dubai), Vice President Communications – Europe, Central Asia, Middle East & Africa, Tetra Pak
  • Erica Kerner (Singapore), Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing Strategy & Partnerships – Commercial, ONE Championship
  • Virginia Sharma (New Delhi), Former Sales Director, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn
  • Margaret Molloy (New York), Global Chief Marketing Officer, Siegel+Gale
  • Fiona Burton (Edinburgh), Client Partner, The Leith Agency
  • Ed Bell (Hong Kong), General Manager Brand, Insights and Marketing Communications, Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Dom Grounsell (London), Managing Director - UK & Eire Sports Brands, GVC Group (Ladbrokes/Coral)

There were so many fascinating insights shared by the group to help navigate these tough times, but to also look at the positives of what can be achieved by a new way of thinking and how we can come out stronger the other side of this global crisis. I rounded up my three key takeaways:

Innovation at speed

Never have we had to innovate at speed more than now. Dom shared how his team went from all office based to work from home in a weekend and how the team have embraced that change was incredibly inspiring for him. We’re in a situation that very few people  have been in before (Erica and Ed mentioned they were in China during SARS) and it’s crucial that leaders and businesses act quickly, make bold aggressive decisions and have a go at the ‘crazy idea’. Now is the time to make things happen.

Kindness and purpose

Purpose was the key buzzword of the industry in 2019 and at this current time has never been more important for a brand to show its purpose. Customers will not forget how brands treated them and made them feel in these current times and we must show kindness and compassion during a situation that we are all in together.

Commercial focus

Marketing has still not quite shifted the ‘colouring in department’ tag of years gone by, but now is the time to do so. It is crucial marketing leaders really understand their role within the organisation, their ability to look at short-term ROI, debt, the balance sheets and understand how they can play a positive role, all while creating long-term brand presence. Virginia said “We need to think like owners, not like marketers”.

The final question posed by Gemma was “what is a marketing leaders role in this current crisis?”. I’ve collated all of the answers from the panel in one: It’s about a marketing leader absolutely focussing on creating sustainable growth for the business and putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. Never have we had to balance art and creativity more and we need to be more creative than ever to cut through the noise. We have to be resilient, able to be more agile than ever before, dream big, empower others to dream bigger and be our bravest self with the decisions we make.

In time, this crisis will have winners and losers, but it is clear, that the winners will be the ones who act on the above advice.